Learning More About the Nation’s First Retirement Community for Military Families

Eric Stewart July 5, 2018

Retirement from the military can be remarkably different from retirement as we imagine it. The average age of a retiring officer is only 45, versus 62 for the general population. There is a transition back to civilian life that can be complex, especially if the retiree is dealing with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or physical disability. Depending on which state a military retiree decides to reside, benefits can vary widely.


Widowhood is also more common among military spouses. In 1959, after World War II and the Korean War, there were many widows who didn’t receive the benefits that military widows do today. A group of them convened and created The Army Distaff Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides housing, health, and wellness services to retired military veterans and their families.

By 1962, they had enough donations to build the nation’s first retirement community for military families. Located in Washington, DC, Knollwood now houses over 300 residents, many of whom were young lieutenants’ wives almost 60 years ago. Little did they know, the money they raised to build Knollwood would eventually serve their own families, some of whom now live there. The foundation abides by a firm commitment to offer services regardless of one’s ability to pay, providing financial assistance to military families in need.

Knollwood sits on 16 beautiful acres overlooking Rock Creek Park and, according to their website, provides opportunities for “socializing and recreation geared to the kind of camaraderie officers engage in throughout their careers.”

To qualify to live at Knollwood, you simply need to be an officer from any U.S. Uniformed Service who retired honorably, or a close relative thereof.

Our own Eric Stewart had the privilege of sitting down with Major General Timothy P. McHale, who is the president of Knollwood. Life at Knollwood is “like a cruise ship,” McHale said. “There’s something going on all the time and it’s a beautiful setting.”

There is an events team that keeps residents engaged with the community and, notably, they offer a continuum of care that is not available at most retirement communities in this area. Whether they need independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, or memory care, residents who have likely relocated often during a military career can now “make one final move to a community where their health care needs will be met for the remainder of their lives.”

If you’d like to learn more about life at Knollwood, they are hosting a lunch-and-learn on July 19, 2018. Please call 202-524-0454 or visit to learn more.

General McHale

Major General Timothy P. McHale
President of Knollwood

If you’re interested in learning more about various continuing care retirement communities in the area, we also welcome you to download our free CCRC Guide by clicking the link below.

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